Academy Manager Ross McNeilly will be updating us on the academy until everything returns to normal.
McNeilly discusses the return to training, the guidelines that are in place, promising academy graduates in the first team, potential youngsters that could make the first team and recruitment for the academy.
How is training going with the academy? Is it easy to put safety measures in place for all the age groups?
McNeilly said: “We went back two weeks ago. Under 7s to under 16s went back with non-contact training but they have physical contact training now.
“Even though they’re back, we still have to mind social distancing and make sure that equipment is cleaned regularly. The right staff has to be in place to ensure that contact in between sessions and after sessions is kept to an absolute minimum.
“Training is once a week and that will be in place until about mid-August and then it will be twice a week. The under-17s to under 20s will be back once a week as well, twice a week next week and then three-four times a week the week after.
“The older ones are a little bit easier to manage than the really young ones and we have a few pre-season games booked in for August in preparation for next season. Mini tournaments are in place for the younger ones and there are things in place for the under 23s, 18s and 19s as well.
Is there a likely date for the academy to return to action? How good is it to hear that two players have signed contracts with the first team?
“The season looks likely to start around early September and we are making sure that everyone is ready for that. Holiday camps are looking to start up but the main thing is to make sure that it is safe. Guidelines and other safety measures will have to be followed to make sure we can return safely in September.
“Getting back to football is crucial to the mental health of the boys and the sanity of the parents. We’ve made sure not to return too quickly and return safely and effectively without rushing it. Starting in September is a good thing and it’s a big positive to be able to start in September rather than a later date.
“There is also some greats news with Reece Wylie and Ryan Hall getting their first professional contracts with the first team. They have both been with us over the years and they have been with us for the last couple of weeks as well.
Are there any other academy players that you think can make the first-team as well?
“Yeah, there is obviously Reece Miller who is potentially next. He made his National League debut last season. There is Harry Taylor who is in and out of Charlton Athletic at the minute and we have a few others like Ben Shroll, George Hedley, Harry Woodward and the under 19s are going to be very strong next year as well.
“I’m really positive on them and I think they can really kick on and get close to the first team. I’m hoping by this time next year that there will be one or two boys extra in the first team setup or even getting a professional contract.”
You can watch the full interview below: